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How to Cook Hulled Barley in Instant Pot

How to Cook Hulled Barley in Instant Pot

Hulled barley is a true whole grain. It’s rich in nutritious vitamins and minerals and has lots of benefits over pearl barley. Though it takes longer to cook hulled barley than pearl barley, it’s no longer an issue, since we’re using our Instant Pot!


  • 1 cup hulled barley
  • 2.5 cups water, or stock
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  • Bay leaf
  • Olive oil, or butter


  1. Rinse hulled barley in a mesh sieve. Drain well.
  2. Put the well drained barley into the inner insert of your Instant Pot.
  3. Add water, or stock, salt and bay leaf, if using.
  4. Close the lid and make sure the valve is set to “sealing”.
  5. Set the Instant Pot to Multigrain function for 23 minutes.
  6. Once the time is up, allow the pressure to release naturally for at least 15 minutes, and then carefully turn the valve to venting. Once the pin drops, carefully open the lid.
  7. Fluff the barley with a wooden spoon, or fork. Don’t worry if you see some water, you can either drain it, or leave it as is. I usually leave it as is.
  8. Stir in olive oil or butter to taste.

Recipe Notes:

This recipe has been tested in my favorite Instant Pot DUO 6qt.

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Scroll down to read more tips and story behind the recipe

Are you looking for healthier alternative to your regular side dishes, like steamed white, or brown rice? Great news, there are many different whole grain alternatives, and today we’re going to show you how to cook super healthy, chewy and nutty barley.

If you’ve never had barley before, or only had it in soups (beef and barley soup, anyone?), then you’ll be surprised what a delicious and satisfying side dish it is!

But before we jump into cooking barley, let’s talk about what barley is and what types of barley you can find on the market.

What is barley?

Barley is one of the oldest grains known to man, and it’s packed with fiber, vitamin B, protein and other minerals like phosphorus, magnesium and niacin. It helps to reduce cholesterol, therefore making it a heart-healthy grain.

And thanks to its great source of fiber, barley also promotes a healthy digestive system.

In addition, barley helps to regulate blood sugar, which is a great addition to a diet of a diabetic. 

What types of barley are out there?

There’re mainly two types of barley: pearled and hulled.

  • Pearled barley is basically a processed version of barley. Think of white rice vs brown rice. Pearled barley is creamy white color and most commonly available too.
  • Hulled barley, on other hand, is a true whole grain with only outermost hulls removed. It’s golden brown in color and is the most nutritious version. All the nutritional benefits we talked about earlier applies to hulled barley. While you can find hulled barley at any natural food stores, I buy mine on Amazon. I love this one! Since hulled barley still has its bran, it takes a little longer to cook than pearled barley. But that’s an easy fix, since we’re using our Instant Pot to cook it.

How to serve barley?

While barley is a fantastic addition to soups, there are plenty of other ways to serve this deliciously chewy grain. Here’re just a few ideas:

  • Toss them in salads for an additional texture and nutrients.
  • Serve it as a simple side dish, in place of rice. My personal favorite is to serve it with beef stew!
  • Barley is great in stir fries, like fried rice!
  • You can also make risotto with barley!!!

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25 comments on “How to Cook Hulled Barley in Instant Pot”

  1. I made this yesterday and the Barley was cooked I will not say anything about that but it was really mushy far from what I would have preferred, I wanted it more of a rice texture with the single grain. Any thoughts of what could have gone wrong? How long does yours take to come to pressure if you do not mind me asking?

    • Hi, Jan. Did you use hot or cold water? And can you confirm you used hulled barley, and not pearled barley? The reason I’m asking this is because pearl barley cooks faster than hulled barley.

      As for time for IP to come to pressure, I usually note how long it takes for my IP to come to pressure, but I can’t find my notes. I’ll cook some barley this week, and will take a note.

  2. I am using the smaller Instapot, and it has no multigrain function.
    The rice button only allows for 8, 12 or 15 minutes.

    When I cook brown rice, I use just the pressure cook button. What shall I use for pearl barley? is that pressure cook as well? do you know if I should set it HIGH or LOW? the handbook does not say anything about it. Thank you!!!

    • Hi, Mariana. Pearl barley cooks quicker than hulled barley, so I’d set the Instant Pot for 15 minutes on HIGH pressure followed with 15 minute NPR. Let me know if that works, and thank you for reaching out.

  3. I am making a vegetable barley recipe that call for pearl barley and I am substituting hulled. The recipe calls for 20 minutes with quick release in the instant pot. What would you suggestion be for cook time for the hulled barley? Thank you.

    • Hi, Lisa. So, since I haven’t tested it, I’m just giving you my guess only. I’d cook it for 23 minutes with at least 15 minutes of NPR, that’s how much time it takes for hulled barley to cook in IP. I’m not sure what other ingredients in the recipe, but please consider if other vegetables will turn into mush with this adjustments.

  4. I am using the hulled barley for the first time. I have a recipe for vegetable barley soup and it calls for pearl barley. The directions in the instant pot say to cook for 20 minutes and do quick release. How much more cooking time would you suggest if I am using the hulled barley instead? Thank you.

    • This recipe was very helpful as I have been wanting to make a barley dish. I sautéed onions and mushrooms in a little butter in instant pot then added broth and barley. Very good!  Next time I’ll add slivered almonds. Should I add them with the barley or at the end?

  5. How much longer would you need to increase the time to double the recipe?

  6. Can this recipe be used with the delay start function so I can have hot barley for breakfast?  Or will sitting in water overnight make the grain mushy?

    • Hi, Shannon. Although I’ve never tried it with delay function, I agree with you. Soaked barley may come out too mushy.

      • Thanks for the insight!  This recipe is the first thing I made in my Instant Pot, and it came out great!  I made it with water, drained the excess, and have stored it in the fridge.  The past two mornings for breakfast I’ve had a cup of the barley with a teaspoon of plant butter, half teaspoon of brown sugar, and a heavy dash of cake spice warmed for about 1 minute and 15 seconds in the microwave.  It’s so much better than instant oatmeal.  

        Rating: 5
        • That’s awesome, Shannon! I’ve never prepared barley for breakfast, but you totally inspired me to try! We love having rolled oats for breakfast, so I suspect your barley breakfast would be a hit too. Thank you for sharing!

  7. I have combined barley with split peas and tomato, along with an assortment of flavorings and seasonings.

    Rating: 4
  8. yummy!!!

    Rating: 5
  9. Instant pot cooking is new to me. I read, re-read and maybe read recipes again. I just made your easy barley method. I used 50/50 beef broth and water. This turned out perfect! Thanks for sharing and please keep sharing! You make my life easier!

    Rating: 5
  10. Hello. My recipe calls for pearled barley in an instant pot recipe. It is a mushroom barley soup. You are to pressure cook for 22 minutes with the mushrooms as well as the barley. I have the hulled barley. Could you please tell me how much longer I need to pressure this? Thank you very much.

    • Hi, Sharon. Hulled barley takes 23 minutes on high pressure followed by 15-minute NPR. So you just need to set your IP for 23 minutes and you should be good. Hope this helps.

  11. Thank you for your help my barley came out great I was nervous

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